According to Merriam-Webster, having influence correlates to “corrupt interference with authority for personal gain.” Now I think this definition may be a little too harsh, but I do think that the current rise in power for social media influencers is startling. These young adults have made millions selling a lifestyle to audiences and Instagram has quickly become the most popular platform for these individuals to make a name for themselves.
In the public relations world alone, there are now entire teams being dedicated to securing these partnerships with influencers in order to get a specific product or brand name out to their massive followings. These teams have to constantly be tuned in with what is popular and who the current influencer on top is.
Let’s take a closer look into the lives of social media influencers and the tight grip they have on the internet.
Partnerships and Sponsorships
In a recent CBS This Morning interview, head-momager-in-charge, Kris Jenner, discussed another way her famous family has added to their fortunes–sponsored content. She explained that her daughters are making six figures a post, promoting everything from hair-growth gummies, detox teas, waist trainers and much more. She explained that they charge for every bit of sponsored content stating, “They have a fee for a post, or a fee for a story, a fee for Facebook … they have a fee schedule.” In order to make money, influencers have to push products out to their audiences. Some partnerships don’t always seem authentic and a huge priority for influencers is making sure what they are promoting aligns with their brand. Before influencer culture took the internet by storm, only companies had to worry about their brand and making sure every decision they made stayed true to their mission. Today, influencers are constantly being scrutinized online for every post they make. If their fans, or anyone else with access to their public accounts, doesn’t agree with the messages they are sharing, they will be called out. The internet has made it extremely easy to hold people accountable for their actions and influencers have to make sure that the products they are choosing won’t put them in a bad light.
It seems like almost every week an influencer is having to apologize for something they either said recently or something that is now coming to light from the past. Influencers are constantly under an intense microscope and they are sometimes unfairly ridiculed because they are in the public eye. Their lives are being played out for the world to see and in order to stay relevant, they have to post updates about what they are doing and who they are seeing. The problem with public apologies is that audiences are all too familiar with them and being able to remain authentic is becoming increasingly harder to do. Any time a mistake is made, an influencer must decide the best way to share with their audiences how apologetic they are and what they will do to make sure they don’t offend anyone in the future. This tactic has the potential to rub some people the wrong way because many times an apology puts the blame on anyone but the influencer. We’ve all seen a company come forward and apologize for a decision they made that upset their customers. Entire crisis management teams have to go into overtime making sure they can put out the fire before the company is majorly affected. But influencers are a sole entity and they typically don’t have the same support system that these large corporations do.
With every decision an influencer makes, the safety of their fans has to be a top priority. Recently, people are being called out for pushing detox teas onto unsuspecting young adults. Actress Jameela Jamil has taken it upon herself to show the realities of some of the products being advertised by influencers and celebrities. In a series of parody videos posted to her Instagram, Jamil shows the harsh side effects of the weight loss teas being promoted by hundreds of influencers.
Jamil’s voice has become incredibly strong in the fight to protect young fans from purchasing products that are not safe. She has called out influencers on social media and continues to add comments under new posts advertising these products. Most notably, she has taken it upon herself to attack members of the Kardashian-Jenner clan for their neverending weight-loss posts. Her fight to stop sponsorships that promote an unhealthy weight and body image for young girls has caught the attention of a lot of people. Jamil isn’t the only celebrity using their power to demand honesty from influencers regarding the products they are being paid to endorse.
The reach that influencers have is astounding. With just one click, they can send messages out to millions of people. It seems like almost every day, someone new is taking Instagram by storm. It takes a lot of work to remain relevant and popular in the world of social media, but these influencers have found a way to capitalize on sharing their daily lives with the world. It is up to audiences to remember that the world of social media can very often portray a fantasy and we must continue to understand that people in power must be held responsible for all of the content they share with the world.